It's a strange old world, this world of instrumental rock guitar. It's a world where the pre-show entertainment consists of fans heading down to the stage to take pictures of the amps, pedals and effects racks. And the roadies tuning up. And pictures of other fans taking pictures of pedals. Yes, really. Which would explain why there were a couple of thousand empty basements in the West of Scotland as Joe Satriani headed up another sold out show.
But first up, promoting his rather splendid new instrumental album was former Racer X / Mr Big man, Paul Gilbert. And very entertaining he was too. He leaned heavily on the new record with "Norwegian Cowbell" the highlight, a tune so good that I have added a cowbell to my birthday wish list. But only if the delightful keyboard/cowbell player Emi personally delivers it. Although I think husband Paul might have something to say about that.
He was also happy to dip into his past, going as far back as the second Racer X album for "Scarified," and closing his show with the still great after all these years "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)" from the second Mr Big album, Lean Into It, which was not only his sole vocal turn, but saw the drills coming out once more for old times sake.
But then it was time for the main event, and you could hear the hordes rumbling and the air guitars getting warmed up. And it was straight into "I Just Wanna Rock" with the Donkey Kong video graphics screen going into overdrive. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed to take a while for the sound to settle down, and I'm assuming the panicky looking guy with the laptop who was running down the aisle was trying to sort out some of the – technical term coming – geegaws and whizzbangs. "Satch Boogie", in particular seemed to be leaning heavily towards the drums. Not something I think the widdlers in the crowd would appreciate.
Luckily for me, Satch was in a backward looking mood with the likes of "Time Machine" and "Crying" sounding particularly fine. Although it was "One Big Rush" from Flying in a Blue Dream that came highest on my list, even if my lack of in depth Satch knowledge was thrown for a loop when he introduced it as being from a movie soundtrack. But now I know it's from a dodgy brat pack movie called Say Anything. "Ice 9" came a close second, taking me back to the first Satch album I ever owned, Surfing with the Alien.
Strangely, my favourite out of the new material was "Ghosts," which doesn't even appear on the new album, only as a bonus track on the iTunes version. Something that is still causing me to swear under my breath slightly. There was also an outpouring of love for returning bass player Stu Hamm, whose bass solo was simply wonderful. Yes, you read that right. The first half was taken up with a version of Led Zeppelins "Going To California," before he headed off into his flights of fancy. Never thought I'd see the day.
Three hours of instrumental guitar music is a lot for a non muso to get through, but bar a few noodly moments in the Satriani set, it was a remarkably enjoyable evening. Even allowing for the bloke with the fattest head in the world, and the drum majorette who made it their mission to annoy.Powered by Sidelines